Good Fantasy Reads
This section lists fantasy books that are definitely worth reading. While they aren't the best of the best, these books are still very enjoyable. If you've read all the books in the Top 25 Fantasy Books list and Top 100 Fantasy Books list, the Best of Fantasy Genre, Best Fantasy Books Since 2010, and the Best Fantasy Books of 2014 and Top 25 Best Stand Alone Fantasy Books, then you should check out the books on this list.
This is sort of the 'catch all' list for books that slip through the other best lists. They are books that I consider good enough to recommend, but not over any of the better books in the genre. Keep in mind that I certainly can't list every single fantasy book/series ever punished so this list is NOT exhaustive. Just because you don't see a book on this list doesn't mean the book is bad -- it may perhaps be on another list on this site or maybe I've not yet read it yet.
If you do read through this list, then be sure to check out some of the other specialist lists or best subgenre lists for some more specific recommendations based on certain themes or elements or fantasy subgenres.
Books in The Kingdoms Of Thorn And Bone Series (3)
If you like Greg Keyes' The Briar King, try R. Scott Bakker's The Darkness That Comes Before, which features superlative prose, an unique, but fascinating storyline, and the gritty realism that Martin exhibits. Also try Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and Ice saga and Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time.
Books in The Saga Of Recluce Series (26)
Books in Crown Of Stars Series (5)
Books in Oath Of Empire Series (5)
Books in Incarnations Of Immortality Series (7)
Books in The Dragoncrown War Cycle Series (3)
Books in The Age Of Unreason Series (3)
Books in The Fionavar Tapestry Series (3)
Books in Temeraire Series (10)
Books in Aldabreshin Compass Series (3)
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. The Swan's War trilogy seems both similar to, yet different from Lord of the Rings. The mysterious and rare nature of magic is a trait shared by both books, as is the beautiful prose that seems half poetry, half fiction (though Russell's work is more “modern and novelistic”).
Books in The Sun Sword Series (6)
Books in Black Magician Series (3)
Books in Redwall Series (21)
Books in Dragonriders Of Pern Series (24)
Books in The Books Of Pellinor Series (3)
Books in Inkworld Series (2)
Books in Percy Jackson And The Olympians Series (6)
Books in Sword Of Truth Series (14)
Books in Nightside Series (17)
Books in The Chathrand Voyage Series (3)
If you're looking to scratch the itch for an epic after finishing Game of Thrones, this series is a great place to start. It details the growth of the king's four children through to adulthood, jumping across a multitude of perspectives, political maneuvering, and battles.It's huge in scope and slow in its pacing, but Acaia has that rare ability to make you think deeply. Durham, seamlessly integrates important philosophies into the story through his characters and their actions. None of the four protagonists are outright 'heroes'. In fact, the book takes a close look at the monstrosities dynasties get away with in the name of good. You quickly learn that the kingdom isn't all it's cracked up to be, and when the threat of invasion looms, it's not always easy to pick the right side. It's not an easy read. There isn't a constant or flashy use of magic to catch your eye, and the sheer detail means it can be overwhelming. But if you can push past that, you'll find real value in this story of betrayal, war, and relatable villains. Read if you like: Game of Thrones, multiple perspectives, gray areas.
Books in Acacia Series (3)
Acacia is written in the epic Fantasy tradition that Tolkien pioneered. Epic Fantasy is probably the most popular type of Fantasy and the real "poster boy" for the Fantasy genre (something that I personally believe should not be the case).
If you like Acacia, then it's a sure bet that you will love these other series.
You should definitely read George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, which is the best epic fantasy series currently out there (and my top pick).
Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time is also another excellent epic Fantasy in the tradition. The Greg Keyes' Kingdom of Thorn and Bone is also another spectacular epic fantasy series that's several notches above most other series -- at least for the first couple books. The series fails after the third book and the last book is dreadfully disappointing.
And of course the daddy of epic Fantasy, The Lord of the Rings.
For a more anti-hero protagonist, Stephen Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is another great series to read. You want epic Fantasy that brings new meaning to the word "epic," then read Steven Erikson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen.
And if you want some epic Fantasy that really breaks or twists in some way most of the standard conventions of epic Fantasy, read Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself.
Books in Iron Druid Chronicles Series (11)
Books in Seven Forges Series (1)
Books in Worldbreaker Saga Series (1)
One of the more interesting fantasy debuts this year by a well-established pedigreed author (she's won some serious awards with two previous HUGO's). It's an interesting take on the epic fantasy genre with solid writing and a highly imaginative world.
The Mirror Empire is one of those few fantasy books that comes along every few years and pushes the boundaries of the genre into a slightly different direction. And for that alone, this book should be lauded.
The author's mashup of a number of different ideas, genres, and even universes, is a breath of fresh air.
However, there are shortcomings a plenty present too. The shift between the two main POV's happens quite often and out of the blue. It's jarring and it ruins the flow and you are left feeling mildly confused as to where you are and what character you are following now (you'll get what I mean when you read the story). Not all the POV's are as well developed as the others. The author does flesh out a few of the characters, but the other characters are really left by the wayside. And by golly, there is an astounding amount of blood, violence, and mayhem. This may or may not be your cup of tea, but the warning is there.
Overall, I must wax lyrical about this book. One of the more interesting and best fantasy books to come out this year -- in my personal top 5. The Mirror Empire holds nothing back, it's a brutal heavy take on the violence and atrocity of warfare: People die, characters die -- often horribly. There are few books I've read with a body count that runs into the hundreds and the thousands -- and this is one of those books. But there is method to all this violence; the book is a sharp look and critique at the horrors of war and all the evils founded on it -- genocide, ethnic cleansing, and brutality. You can certainly read this book and see many real world parallels, especially in the Middle East conflicts and the genocides occurring in Africa.
For a novel that does the novel things and pushes the boundary and spins the genre on its head, for a novel that takes a smart look at the hard things about ware, for a fantasy with a message, and for a fantasy that holds nothing back and combines different genres, ideas, with some serious action and worldbuilding ideas, the Mirror Empire must be read.